Wise Guy Betting Term Meaning


The majority of sports betting terms are self-explanatory but there are one or two that are not so obvious. A betting ‘wise guy’ falls into that latter category, so let’s find out exactly what it means.

Wise guys are the punters that place smart bets. They may be ‘wise’ to some insider information, or perhaps they have just made good use of the available resources and done their homework. Either way, they are the ones placing wagers that can affect the odds offered by the sportsbooks. 

The ‘squares’ (uninformed general-public bettors) are the opposite of wise guys. These punters simply follow the market and commonly bet on short-priced favourites which they feel carry less risk.

One thing that all wise guys share is a thirst for knowledge. They know that if they can match up the correct information with the right odds, there is the potential to make some good profits from their betting activity. They are constantly researching statistics and will be checking the odds as soon as they are posted to seek out the best market value they can find. 

The term ‘wise guy’ had negative connotations due to its association with the Mafia and numerous gangster movies. It was linked to illegal betting in those days, but since the rise of online sports betting it has become generally accepted as a compliment.

Before the internet age, bookmakers had to rely on recognising a wise guy by sight when they would come to place a bet. Often the wise guy would use a beard (an associate) to place the bet for them so that the bookmaker would remain unaware. 

In the digital age, with our usernames and account history at the click of a button, it’s much easier for the sportsbook operator to keep track of each and every transaction and bet placed. The algorithm varies between bookmakers, but all betting sites have a system to identify potential wise guys. 

You can be sure that if you happen to place three or four big bets at good odds and each of them is correct, your account will be flagged. You would probably never know about it, but the system would be monitoring your betting patterns (along with those of other potential wise guys) to look for any unusual activity that may require them to reduce or increase their odds.

Bookmakers will also make use of known betting wise guys to check their lines and margins. For instance, if a market has been priced up incorrectly, the chances are a wise guy will spot it first. 

Sometimes, the odds are not necessarily in comparison to other books but wrong but the wise guy senses a good bet such as when Vegas Dave bet $20,000 on Holly Holm to beat Ronda Rousey at odds of +1,100 in their UFC fight. Actions like these make bookies adjust their lines out of fear of taking a big hit.